Building a successful sales team is nothing more important than the people who work within it. A successful career in sales is forged by building relationships, being knowledgeable, and being able to close deals. So when it comes to recruitment for sales jobs, you need to be able to uncover people who bring the right skills, mindset, and appetite for success to the table.
Recruiting successful salespeople differs from other roles because you're looking for specific skill sets and values. In addition, you need to acquire driven, experienced hires who have what it takes, which is why the interview stage is crucial. Asking the right job interview questions can be the difference between finding a sales recruit better on paper and discovering that dream hire with a tangible, immediate and long-lasting impact, bringing in clients and driving up profits.
At Pareto, we are sales industry market leaders and experts in recruitment, with over 20 years of success and more than 27,000 candidates placed successfully into sales roles in over 100 industries across the globe. We've compiled a list of a few of the most important questions to ask in sales interviews, helping you uncover talent and find the ideal hire for your business.
1. What were your most successful sales?
If you're looking for a top sales candidate, you want someone with a proven track record, so try to find out where your potential hire has found success in the past. Ask them to walk you through the sales processes they used, from initial contact to closing, and where they feel they made a tangible difference to the result.
This question lets you immediately see your candidate's skills, highlighting their communication skills, ability to close, flexibility, and perhaps most crucially, ability to sell a product or service and its features and benefits.
An interviewee's response to this question also demonstrates how they effectively strategize. If they give a positive, detailed answer that comes across as considered and impactful, it indicates they could be a hire that hits the ground running for your business.
2. How do you build effective customer relationships?
Soft skills such as communication are among the most important for salespeople hoping to achieve customer success. As a recruiter, you need to know that anyone you bring into the team can communicate effectively with potential clients, from when they talk to them to when a deal is sealed.
One of the most effective ways to gauge their skills in this area is to probe into one of the most challenging aspects of client communication – building the initial relationship. Ask them what key questions they ask to qualify a lead, for example, or how they utilize small talk in their calls or emails to build that all-important rapport with the potential client.
3. How do you approach selling new products or services?
No one is an expert on everything – but you need your sales professional to be precisely that. Whatever your business sells, you need sales staff who can effectively extol its virtues and benefits to a client, succinctly putting across what your product is and how it will benefit them.
The ability to do this well is rooted in deep product knowledge. And while your hires are unlikely to be experts from the off, it's essential to determine how they make it their goal to become one. Extensive product research, speaking to those behind the manufacturing, and finding out where it sits in the market are all vitally essential tactics you want to see from your potential hires.
4. What areas do you hope to develop in this sales job?
This question is perhaps one of the most critical sales interview questions to ask. While you naturally want to know what strengths candidates have, knowing where they need to develop is also essential. It lets you see if they're the right fit for your role and allows you to pinpoint where they might need training in the future.
You cannot only decide whether you want to bring them on board, but you also get the chance to start planning your sales training courses with new hires in mind once you've made the decision. On top of that, you can also make your business a more attractive place to work. You can do this by highlighting how much you seek to invest in your salespeople and their progression.
Asking where they'd like to improve puts an active and positive spin on the interview process, too, rather than going down the outdated route of what are your weaknesses?
5. What are your long-term goals for your career in sales?
Investing in your business starts with investing in salespeople, which means you will want people who are committed and in it for the long run. Asking people to map out their long-term future allows you to see if they view sales as a career path they want to go down. Additionally, it lets you define their ambition and drive to succeed, which are considerable benefits in sales roles.
Asking this question helps you rule out anyone who might want the job as a stepping stone and highlights who is worth the investment.
As a bonus, knowing what someone's career goals look like can help improve your planning, bringing in people you see as long-term leaders of your team further down the line.
Hiring for sales roles is one of your business's biggest challenges. Finding the right candidate is crucial to long-term success, so it's vital to ensure you ask the right questions to uncover the perfect salesperson. Whether you're a hiring manager or sales manager looking to bolster your team, you want to recruit a sales rep with the skills set and potential to grow and is ultimately a good fit and a reliable team player.
At Pareto, we understand sales recruitment and can help your company find your next sales superstar. We can support you whether you're looking to hire an experienced sales professional, motivated graduate, or eager apprentice. So get in touch and discover how we can help you realize your potential today.